Last Leg of the Henry Knox Trail

Hi. I hope everyone had a fun Thanksgiving. Lucky me, I got to be with all three of my grandsons and their families. Meanwhile, I was able to finish this video compilation of my trip in September 2018 through southern Massachusetts following the Henry Knox Trail (West Springfield to Cambridge). I also visited some amazing libraries. I sorta screwed up on my video labeling. This is Part 2 of following the trail but actually, Part 4 of my series on being in New England doing Henry Knox related things.

As I noted in the comments section on YouTube:

For a copy of my sing-along children’s history book about the trail, Henry’s Big Kaboom, go to the Fort Ticonderoga Museum Store at http://www.fortticonderoga.org and click the ‘shop’ tab. You can also order it on Amazon. You can view the animated video (same title – Henry’s Big Kaboom) on YouTube.

To view my video about following the first part of the Henry Knox Trail go to https://youtu.be/aD9fu4BeTzI.

For a written guide (pdf) to following the Henry Knox Trail, check out the Hudson River Valley Foundation website at http://www.hudsonrivervalley.org/themes/knoxtrail.html. They updated the guide a year ago.

That’s it for now. Keep on Rambling.

Ticonderoga to Albany – Henry Knox Trail Markers 6 to 23

Starting at 8:30 am, I touched down at Markers No 6 through 23 on Tuesday, all in the state of New York. At 5:15 pm, I crashed at the Colonial Inn on Route 20 between Markers 23 and 24. Hungry for vegetables, I happily followed the inn proprietor’s suggestion to eat at the sushi place across the street.

Map of Markers 1-23 of the Henry Knox Trail

According to the Hudson Valley Organization’s guide to the Henry Knox Trail, this is the route I followed:

Leaving Sabbath Day Point, where, in the words of my 5x-great-grandfather Henry Knox, they rescued the scow that had “run on a sunken rock, but not in such a manner as to be irretrievable that they had broken all the ropes which they had in endeavoring to move her off”, the Train of Artillery pushed on south. (I mistakenly wrote in previous posts that they were traveling on frozen-over rivers in sleds. They were not. They traveled down Lake George in boats. The sled part is when they ford the Mohawk and Hudson Rivers later. I will correct my previous blog.)

Marker 7 of the Henry Knox Trail in Roger's Memorial Park, Bolton Landing, New York

Marker 7 of the Henry Knox Trail in Roger’s Memorial Park overlooking Lake George in Bolton Landing, New York

In his journal on December 10, 1775, Knox wrote, “…the crew of the Battoe [batteau], after having refresh’d themselves, told me as they were not very deeply loaded that they intend’d to push for Fort George [at the south end of lake]. Accordingly I jump’d into the Boat & ordered my man to bring my baggage & we would go with them — accordingly we set out it being eleven O’clock with a slight breeze ahead the men rowed briskly, but we had not been out above an hour when the wind sprang up very fresh & directly against us – the men after rowing exceedingly hard for about four hours seem’d desirous of going ashore to make a fire to warm themselves & knowing them to be very exceedingly weary.” (Marker No. 6 – Bolton Landing) “… we warmed ourselves sufficiently and took a comfortable nap – laying with our backs to the fire …”

Marker 7 of the Henry Knox Trail in Roger's Memorial Park, Bolton Landing, New York

Marker 7 of the Henry Knox Trail in Roger’s Memorial Park, Bolton Landing, New York. All the markers in New York look like this but aren’t as well maintained.

The next morning, they started again, “… about half an hour before day break that is about a quarter after rising we set out and in six hours & a quarter of excessive hard pushing against a fresh breeze, we reached Fort George.” (Marker No. 7)

Marker 7 of the Henry Knox Trail, Lake George, New York

Marker 7 of the Henry Knox Trail, south end of Lake George looking north, New York

There is a gap in Knox’s journal between December 18 and 23. This is what historians think happened:

Knox and his men had to search for sleds to drag the cannon south from Lake George to the Hudson. They also had to wait for sufficient snow to make the roads passable for those sleds. The Train of Artillery would eventually follow the route from Lake George to Fort Miler shown by Markers 8 through 11. It follows the Hudson River along today’s Routes 4 and 9. They passed the intersection of Bloody Pond Road (Marker No. 8),

Marker 8 of the Henry Knox Trail at the crossing of Bloody Pond Road and Route 9 south of Lake George

Marker 8 of the Henry Knox Trail at the crossing of Bloody Pond Road and Route 9 south of Lake George

and through Glens Falls (Marker No. 9),

Marker No. 9 of the Henry Knox Trail at the southeast corner of Crandall Park, Glens Falls, NY

Marker No. 9 of the Henry Knox Trail at the southeast corner of Crandall Park, Glens Falls, NY

Hudson Falls (Marker No. 10),

Marker No. 10 of the Henry Knox Trail in front of the Public Library in Hudson Falls, New York

Marker No. 10 of the Henry Knox Trail in front of the Public Library in Hudson Falls, New York

and Fort Edward (Marker No. 11).

Marker No. 11 of the Henry Knox Trail in front of the high school in Fort Edwards, New York

Marker No. 11 of the Henry Knox Trail in front of the high school in Fort Edwards, New York

On December 24, Knox forged ahead of the group on foot, scouting good roads and places to ford the rivers. He stopped at Fort Miller (Marker No. 11.5), “where Judge Dewer procured me a sleigh to go to Stillwater.”

Marker No. 11.5 of the Henry Knox Trail marking where Knox visited Fort Miller along the Hudson

Marker No. 11.5 of the Henry Knox Trail marking where Knox visited Fort Miller along the Hudson

Knox crossed the river by ferry to the west side (Marker No. 12) near the hill (knob) General John Stark of New Hampshire would later defend and prevent the British from “retreating north.”

Place where General John Stark of New Hampshire held the British at bay from going north.

Place where General John Stark of New Hampshire held the British.

A small park was created in 2000 where Monument No. 12 now stands, hidden in the brush. A modern statue of one of Henry’s ox carts keeps it company.

Marker No. 12 of the Henry Knox Trail at Stark's Know, named after the hill Stark defended during the Revolutionary War to prevent the British from moving north.

Marker No. 12 of the Henry Knox Trail at Stark’s Knob, named after the hill Stark defended during the Revolutionary War.

Marker No. 13 of the Henry Knox Trail marking where the Train of Artillery passed throught Schuylerville, New York

Modern-day statue of one of the teams of oxen pulling cannon with the Trail of Artillery, Stark Knob, New York

and arrived at Schuylerville (Marker No. 13), which he called Saratoga. [I can’t remember which of my photos this is, sorry.]

“… we dined and set off about three OClock, it still snowing exceeding fast … after the utmost efforts [of the] horses we reach’d Ensign’s tavern 8 miles beyond Saratoga [was Marker 14, now missing)” where, “we lodg’d.”

Position where Marker No. 14 of the Henry Knox Trail once stood where Ensign's Tavern once stood, just north of Saratoga Historic Park.

Position where Marker No. 14 of the Henry Knox Trail once stood marking the location of Ensign’s Tavern where Knox stopped and dined. It is just north of Saratoga Historic Park. The marker is missing.

Marker No. 15 in Bemis Heights shows the location of the house where Knox stayed on Christmas Eve.

Marker No. 15 of the Henry Knox Trail near Bemis Heights, New York.

Marker No. 15 of the Henry Knox Trail near Bemis Heights, New York.

On Christmas morning, Knox woke to find two feet of new snow on the ground. He forged on to Stillwater (Marker 16),

Marker No. 16 of the Henry Knox Trail in front of the Public Library in Stillwater, New York

Marker No. 16 of the Henry Knox Trail in front of the Public Library in Stillwater, New York. Note the Hudson River behind the library.

where he obtained another sleigh that would take him to Albany. He passed through today’s Mechanicsville (Marker No. 17).

Marker No. 17 of the Henry Knox trail next to the Post Office in Mechanicsville, New York

Marker No. 17 of the Henry Knox trail next to the Post Office in Mechanicsville, New York

At Waterford (Marker No. 18) he forded took a ferry across the Hudson to the east side.

Marker No. 18 of the Henry Knox Trail by the bridge crossing the Hudson, Waterford, New York

Marker No. 18 of the Henry Knox Trail by the bridge crossing the Hudson, Waterford, New York

Plaque in Waterford, New York

Plaque in Waterford, New York

He wrote, “…the roads not being broken prevented our getting farther than New City [today’s Lansingburg], about 9 miles above Albany — where we lodg’d.” Henry may have crossed the Hudson via the Lansing’s ferry.

Albany is on the west side of the river. But the Train of Artillery had to deal with the confluence of the mighty Mohawk River and the Hudson River, a complicated and busy geographic roadblock. Knox first tried the “usual crossing” at Half Moon near Cohoes. The ice was too thin and he lost a sled and cannon. So he ordered the rest to cross “At Sloss’s [Claus’s/Klaus’s Ferry] as the ice was so much stronger …” Marker No. 19 in Crescent stands by Route 9 south of the Mohawk River.

Marker No. 19 of the Henry Knox Trail along Route 9 south of Crescent, New York

Marker No. 19 of the Henry Knox Trail along Route 9 south of Crescent, New York

On January 5, after crossing the Mohawk at Claus’s Ferry, the Train of Artillery headed south along today’s Loudon Road (Route 9) toward Albany (Marker No. 20 in Latham).

Marker No. 20 of the Henry Knox Trail in front of the Mason Temple on Loudon Road, Latham, New York

Marker No. 20 of the Henry Knox Trail in front of the Masonic Temple on Loudon Road, Latham, New York

Marker No. 21 locates where the road turned into Albany. Today that “turn” is a major freeway intersection.

Marker No. 21 of the Henry Knox Trail across from the Albany Hospital, New York

Marker No. 21 of the Henry Knox Trail across from the Albany Hospital, New York

Marker No. 22 is now missing, It used to mark the place where the train forded the Hudson at Albany, placing the group on the west side on their way to Massachusetts.

Memorial Bridge crossing the Hudson River from Albany to Rensselaer, New York

Memorial Bridge crossing the Hudson River from Albany to Rensselaer, New York

From the exit off the bridge in Rensselaer, the trail follows today’s Route 20, where I passed by Marker No. 23. It is surrounded by weeds. I bet few people who pass it know why it stands there.

Marker No. 23 of the Henry Knox Trail, Route 20, Rensselaer, New York

Marker No. 23 of the Henry Knox Trail, Route 20, Rensselaer, New York

From here I travel southwestward toward Boston.

Henry Knox Trail – Markers No. 3, 4, & 5 – Lake George

Map of Henry Knox Trail Markers 1 to 5

Searching for the markers for the Henry Knox Trail reminds me of geocaching. Marker No. 5 was especially difficult to find because it is on private property in the backyard of someone’s home overlooking Lake George. We had to trespass to reach it.

From Fort Ticonderoga (Marker No. 1), Knox hauled his sixty tons of heavy weaponry down the road from the fort (Marker No. 2) to the lake, where, on December 6, 1775, they were shuttled from the peninsula to Ticonderoga (Marker No. 3) on boats. Knox wrote in his journal, “Employed in getting the cannon from the fort on board a Gundaloe [gondola] in order to get them to the bridge.”

The boats were sailed or rowed around the peninsula of Ticonderoga into LaChute, a creek that tumbles over several waterfalls from Lake George to Lake Champlain. At the bridge, the artillery was transferred from water to land carriage. Loaded carts were pulled by ox and horses over the Portage Road – which still exists by that name – to Lake George.

At today’s Mossy Point Boat Launch (Marker No. 4), the guns were transferred to a flotilla of boats to sail down Lake George. the heaviest pieces were placed on a “scow.” Henry also had a “pirogue” and a “batteau” at his disposal. He wrote, “Employ’d in loading the Scow, Pettyaugre and a Battoe. At 3 O’Clock in the afternoon set sail to go down the lake in the Pettyaugre, the Scow coming after us ran aground, we being about a mile ahead with a fair wind to go down but unfair to help the Scow. The wind dying away, we with the utmost difficulty reach’d Sabbath Day Point about 9 O’Clock in the evening – went ashore & warm’d ourselves by an exceeding good fire in an hut made by some civil indians, who were with their Ladies abed – they gave us some Vension, roasted after their manner, which was very relishing.” (Marker No. 5).

Map Location Marker No. 3

Heading from the fort toward the town of Ticonderoga, just after crossing Route 22,  I found Marker No. 3 on the left (south) side of the street amongst a triangle of monuments.

Henry Knox Trail Marker No. 3

This is looking at the triangle from the other direction.

Henry Knox Trail Marker No. 3

Then I enjoyed walking around town. In this photo, LaChute is to the right and the Portage Road to the left. I’m facing the direction Henry would have traveled to get to Lake George.

This photo was taken facing the hill, Knox traveled from Marker 3 toward Marker 4. Marker No. 4 is at the Mossy Point boat ramp at the north end of Lake George.

 This is the last waterfall along LaChute before the waters flow into Lake Champlain.     

To get to Marker No. 4, we (Charlie, Paula and I) drove through town and south to Black Point Road. The marker is at the entrance to Mossy Point Landing. The markers in New York look exactly alike. They don’t have anything on them identifying what number they are.

Map Markers 3 to 4

Henry Knox Trail Marker No. 4 

This is where the guns were loaded onto sleds on Lake George. From here we had to retrace our steps to Highway 9, then follow it south along the west side of Lake George to Sabbath Day Point.

This map is the result of a lot of walking around Sabbath Day Village and asking people where the marker was. Not a soul had heard of it, not even a woman who had been spending summers in the village her whole life. An elderly resident figured out it had to be at the end of the point which was the back lawn of the residents who lived there. He pointed to this point.

Marker No. 5 point

So we mustered the courage to trespass and found it.

 

On the way out, I took this photo of the street signs for others to follow to reach Sabbath Day Point Village. One of the residents recommended we take a look at the historic Grace Chapel.

So we backtracked. It was built in 1889.

 

Following the Henry Knox Trail

Marker for the Henry Knox Trail

In 1926, honoring the sesquicentennial (150-year) anniversary of the Revolutionary War, the states of New York and Massachusetts erected 56 stone markers with brass plaques commemorating Henry Knox’s 1775 expedition from Fort Ticonderoga and Crown Point (New York) to Dorchester Heights outside Boston, Massachusetts. The markers trace the route, which looked something like this:

Sketch of the Henry Knox Trail

I first learned about these markers when I was researching Henry Knox in 2007. My corgi, Annie, and I were on a road trip circling the US in a BMW 3-series station wagon. We spent nights in Motel-6es – they love dogs – or with my relatives. I had just learned I might be Henry’s greatx5 granddaughter and wanted to take a look-see at Fort Ticonderoga. But I was traveling in April and the museum was still closed.

I did, however, pass this marker as I traveled north alongside the Hudson River (the same marker that I show above).

Henry Knox Marker by Road

Since 2007, I proved my Knox heritage through the Daughters of the American Revolution. Here’s the line:

Hereditary Line from Knox to Me

Then I wrote an illustrated, sing-along children’s book to teach my grandchildren about Henry’s expedition. It’s called Henry’s Big Kaboom.

Henry's Big Kaboom Book Image

Book Signings

This Thursday, I am traveling from my home in Northern California to New England to attend two book signings. In between the book signings, I will follow the Henry Knox Trail.

On Sunday afternoon, June 10, I will be at Fort Ticonderoga. I am so excited to finally see the fort. I will be sitting by one of the cannon Henry transported.

The following Saturday, June 16, at 10:00, I will be signing more books at the Henry Knox Museum in Thomaston Maine. They are holding an event honoring the Society of the Cincinnati that Henry helped found. The event is titled “Boom.” It will be one big “Boom” weekend.

In between the signings, I will follow Henry’s route, hunting down the markers one by one. Luckily, through the Hudson River Valley Institute’s website, I obtained a detailed guide for finding the markers. The guide includes maps and explanations for why each marker was placed where it was. In most cases, it quotes what Henry Knox wrote in the journal he kept during the expedition. (I believe the original of the journal is housed at the New York Historical Society.)

Henry Knox’s descendants

Henry and his wife Lucy had thirteen children, but only three lived to adulthood. Only one of those three, Lucy Flucker Knox, left descendants. In other words, there are no descendants with a direct male line or with the last name Knox.

Our line was a sticky thing to prove because Henry’s granddaughter Lucy got pregnant with my great-grandfather Charles when she was not married. The Knox family and Lucy’s father’s family, the Thatchers, tried to keep Lucy’s pregnancy a secret. Lucy married later, but her husband never found out about her affair.

Charles met his mother once. The tender letter in which he describes this meeting is part of a document I have on my website that explains this whole ordeal. After Lucy and her husband died in 1863, Charles tried to contact the Knox and Thatcher families to find out who his father was. They did not cooperate. A cousin led him to believe that his father was a sailor who perished at sea two years after the affair. It turns out there was no such man.

Lo and behold, as a result of seeking genealogical roots through DNA tests, a man named Burt Williams in Kentucky came up with a ‘zero distance’ match to my third cousin-once-removed Peter Lesley Ames who lived part-time in Venezuela and part-time in Florida. My great-grandfather Charles Gordon Ames (he took the last name of the people who adopted him in 1830) has 250± living descendants, but only Peter and his son Charles Gordon Ames the Second have a direct male line to CGA the First. Peter passed away this year, but we still have Charlie, who lives in Louisville, Kentucky.

Burt Williams’ family has traced the Williams male line to the family’s emigration to America in the 1600s, but not, yet, to England. Burt’s cousin Nancy Magnuson is diligently working on this project. She found a Williams family living in Thomaston, Maine, at the time Lucy Anna became pregnant. But their male forefathers don’t match Burt’s. The common ancestor must have lived in the 1500s before the families migrated to America. “To be continued.”

250 Cousins

As a result of this genealogical work, I updated a family tree that includes all 250± of Charles Gordon Ames’ living descendant by his two wives. Through emails, I met my third cousin Amy MacDonald (she is one week older than I am) living in Maine not too far from the Knox Museum. She also writes picture books for children. We have joined forces. She will be there on the 16th with her books, too. I can’t wait to meet her.

Here is Henry Knox’s family tree through the first three generations.

Henry Knox Family Tree